Monday’s blog covered an amazing piece of kinetic strip lighting art called Hammertone by The Principals. Discovering that artwork led me to another LED light installation by the same brilliant design team: Cosmic Quilt. Built with help from students at the Art Institute of New York, Cosmic Quilt debuted at New York Design Week in May 2012, and then appeared at Bonarroo Music Festival in Tennessee a month later. Installed overhead, the piece looks like a glowing blanket of clouds. A closer look reveals 3,000 connected parts consisting of paper, aluminum, tiny motors and arduino sensors. The Principals call it an exploration in “interactive architecture,” and watching the piece in motion reveals why.
When a person enters the space below the Quilt, the sensors detect changes in light and shadow, triggering the motors to react and pull the Quilt in different directions. LED puck lights within the quilt create shadows on the ground below that look something like the sun filtered through patchy clouds.
Three controllers hanging from the quilt allow users to have even more fun, controlling the movements of the piece to a further extent. However, once in motion, the quilt will keep going for quite some time, with or without participant interaction. One of the founders of The Principals, Charles Constantine explains, “Once we get it running it can go by itself for extended periods of time, reading either the fluctuations in light from visitors or reacting to its own movement. Because the sensors are locally networked, the Quilt can respond from one area to another, so it has a feedback loop allowing it to run even if no one is inhabiting it.”
See Cosmic Quilt in action here!